By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Chaim Bloom worked to add Kyle Schwarber to the Red Sox roster late Thursday night. It was a positive addition, no doubt, but it was one that most people assumed could not and should not serve as the team’s lone improvement prior to Friday’s deadline.
Yet 4 p.m. came and went on Friday, and that was more or less it for Bloom and the Red Sox. The team did acquire reliever Hansel Robles from Minnesota and Austin Davis from Pittsburgh. Yet Robles’ 4.91 ERA and 1.386 WHIP makes him feel more like a Brandon Workman replacement than anything. Davis has a 5.59 ERA this year and a 5.65 career ERA. Neither pitcher is a game-changer for Boston.
The starting rotation with the eighth-best ERA in the American League didn’t add anybody.
Outside of a hope and a prayer that Schwarber can learn a new position (when he comes off the IL in a week … or two … or three), first base remains a problem in the Boston lineup.
It was not the ideal scenario for a team that has surprised just about everyone with a 63-41 record thus far in the season. In what figures to be a competitive race with the Rays, in a division where the Yankees made several additions to try to get into the race, the Red Sox did very little to climb closer to World Series contention before Friday’s deadline.
That’s probably not going to sit well with a fan base that enjoys chasing championships. And while some valid reasons will certainly be given — the high prices of top players, for one — there is simply something to be said about going for it. That may not always be the prudent, practical point of view, but it’s occasionally the right course for a team that needs a boost or two for the final two months of the year and the postseason.
The Dodgers — in acquiring Max Scherzer and Trae Turner — are clearly going for it.
The Yankees — with Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo — are going for it.
The Giants — in getting Kris Bryant — are going for it.
The White Sox, despite already employing the best closer in the American League, added Craig Kimbrel. The Mets added Javy Baez. They’re both going for it.
Even the Blue Jays, who added Jose Berrios, are going for it.
But the Red Sox? They made a tepid move, adding a solid — albeit injured — hitter with some pop. They didn’t pay a huge price to do it. It was a net positive.
But it just wasn’t much.
The Red Sox will surely say that the looming addition of Chris Sale can be considered a deadline acquisition of sorts. That, however, is not how things work. If Sale is as healthy and strong as he’s looked thus far in his rehab appearances, then he’ll surely help the big league ball club. But that doesn’t make him a deadline acquisition. Likewise for Tanner Houck.
To be fair, the Red Sox aren’t really supposed to be here. After a dreadful reset season in 2020, Bloom’s rebuild likely wasn’t expected to have the Red Sox in contention for another year or two. So perhaps a significant strategic shift in the front office at this precise point in time might have felt hasty, or rushed, or downright foolish.
But if that is the feeling in the front office, it’s likely missing the forest for the trees. The whole point of having a long-term master plan is to … have one of the best records in baseball through the first four months of the season. For as brilliant as that plan may be, the Red Sox may not actually again get to the position they are in right now. With no guarantees in sports — or life, for that matter — there are only so many opportunities to go for it. The Red Sox passed on this chance.
And while we can’t say on July 31 whether or not it will doom the team’s chances of competing for a title, this date will be looked back upon at a later date. With the Red Sox poised for one of their patented worst-to-first jumps and a World Series run, a playoff pitching rotation that is clearly lacking just might end that party before it can properly get started.